Chief Elections Officer (CEO) of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), Keith Lowenfield says that until such time as further directed by a duly constituted Commission, House-to-House Registration will continue.
The CEO made this revelation in a letter penned to the Chairman of the Private Sector Commission (PSC), Captain Gerry Gouveia, moments ago.
Lowenfield said that the conduct of the exercise was operationalised based on the directions of the Commission on February 19, 2019 and by extension Order no. 25 of 2019 that was published in the Official Gazette on June 11, 2019.
He noted also, that consultation was sought with political party stakeholders on the exercise, when the delegation representing the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) headed by Member of Parliament (MP), Zulfikar Mustapha “explicitly” stated that they will not be participating in any deliberation on House-to-House Registration since they are not in agreement with the exercise and “walked out.”
Lowenfield went to reference a letter that was circulated to the media dated July 21, 2019, in which Gouveia expressed concerns about the operationalisaiton of the house-to-house registration, on behalf of the PSC.
Gouveia wrote: “We have sought legal advice on this matter and it is our understanding that you have not been legally directed by the Commission to proceed as you are doing and that to conduct house to house registration is unlawful.”
Lowenfield responded: “In all wisdom, my professional posture is to abide by the decisions of the Commission.”
The CEO said that upon his request, GECOM’s Legal Officer, Excellence Dazzell, had advised that in light of the judgement of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) on 18 June 2019, which stated that the process by which the appointment of the former GECOM Chairman was flawed, every act done by that Justice (Rtd) James Patterson after 18 June 2019 would be void. However, acts done before 18 June 2019 would be valid since those acts would have been done on the premise that the appointment was bona fide.
“Consequent to the foregoing, Mrs Dazzell in her advice also went on to state that since Order 25 of 2019, was signed and gazetted before the Judgment of the CCJ, that is 11 June 2019, it is valid.” Lowenfield wrote.
The house-to-house registration being carried out by GECOM is now marred in controversy, following the CCJ’s validation of the No-Confidence motion which has now reduced the David Granger-led regime into a “caretaker” government.
The controversy was further exacerbated after a notice signed by the former Chairman of GECOM, Justice Patterson was published informing the nation that the process of house-to-house will commence from July 20, 2019 (last Saturday). The notice was placed days before the CCJ ruled that Patterson’s appointment was unconstitutional, and therefore flawed.
The coalition government in the meanwhile, has been pushing for the house-to-house method; claiming that it contains the required methodological components to capture accurately, electorate data for a new voters’ list following the expiration of the last one in April of this year.
Their stance is contrary to that of the parliamentary opposition – the Peoples’ Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C). They are contending that both government and GECOM abide by the constitutional provisions which demand – among other things – that fresh elections be held within three months of a successful No-Confidence motion. They are nailing home that the house-to-house process will not allow elections to be held within that specified time. This contention has given greater rise to the PPP’s supposition that the process is a ploy formulated by both GECOM and government to stall the holding of general and regional elections.
President David Granger has made it clear that GECOM is a constitutional body; meaning that its operations cannot be dictated by the government. The opposition through its Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo, however, thinks otherwise. He believes that the elections body has been compromised and accuses the government of puppeteering the CEO. Lowenfield has yet to respond to these claims even as the PPP moves to court to have him call of the process.